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The Side Dish

Leveraging the Power of Employee Advocates on Social Media

Chelsea Warren, Social Media Specialist / 7.20.2016

With everyone (and even their dogs!) on social media these days, it can be difficult to be heard above the noise. One of the most valuable — and underutilized — resources for getting an edge over the competition is to utilize the power of employee advocacy on social media. This is a particularly important and effective tool for small to medium-sized businesses. But it can be used with larger companies as well if approached correctly.

employee advocates on social media

Ummm, Heck No!

Many companies are, understandably, a little reticent about allowing their employees to engage with them on social media. I’ve even heard of a few larger companies that forbid their employees to indicate that they work for their organization on social profiles.

Why the hesitation? Not every employee reflects their employers’ brand standards in their personal social media posts. There is also the concern that employees may post information that is either proprietary, negative about the company, or that fails to align with the brand’s key messaging. These concerns are legitimate, but there are enough benefits to make employee advocacy on social media still worth considering.

Pause, Wait a Minute

Engaged and well-trained employee advocates are assets to their companies in a host of different ways. Their posts add a humanizing element that may be lacking in your polished messages. This helps customers to see the people behind the company name. Messaging from employees may come across as more sincere than those posted on a company handle. Employees have access to a niche follower base of people that views them as a friend, and, as we know, people are more likely to take advice from a friend than from a brand.

If companies want to be effective on LinkedIn, employee advocates aren’t just a nice idea — they’re absolutely essential. Company pages on LinkedIn can’t follow other pages, comment in groups, or engage with posts outside of their own. This makes employee engagement on LinkedIn imperative.

These benefits should give employers pause before rejecting the idea of employee advocates on social media.

Employee Advocacy on Social Media – How It Works

There are a million different ways companies can implement employee advocacy on their various social channels. Each company needs to figure out the engagement recipe that will work best for them.

You may decide, for example, to limit your employee advocates to only C-level staff. This ensures professional behavior and the knowledge that the participants are dedicated to your ultimate success. You can ask them to create monthly blog posts that feature their expertise on current topics and trends. Or you can institute an employee social media takeover for a day.

If you want to include a wider base of employees, you can have them engage in more simple ways. This may include asking them to follow your brand on all of their social media channels and to take time once a week to like or share a post. The greater the number of employees that participate and the greater the frequency, the greater their potential impact on your company’s social media reputation. But, like everything in social media, make sure you have an effective strategy in place before involving your employees.

Train Them Well — We’ll Teach You How

As soon as you have determined your employee’s level of involvement on social media, it’s time to train them on best practices. It’s wise to include this during an employee’s initial training when hired, and then to reinforce the guidelines on a regular basis. At BIG YAM, we offer training to help you determine the appropriate level of employee advocacy on social media for your company. We also offer employee training to implement your strategy effectively across your company.